© Luana Sciullo

3/21/2013 12:20:36 PM

Onto the Sea Ice We Go!

Wow! It's been another successful day of polar bear tracking here in Churchill. Luckily the weather has been in our favor for a couple of days, and our search for family groups took us onto the frozen Hudson Bay. We coasted along the floe edge where we hoped to find some bears trailing along. Working on the ice is both an amazing and unique experience - completely different from searching for family groups around the denning areas.

We flew over large cliffs of ice glistening in the sun, bringing out beautiful shades of blue that I've never seen before. The landfast ice is formed and anchored directly from the shoreline and guarantees that when we land to work on the bears we won't drift away! Walking on the sea ice is a lot easier than trekking through the deep snowdrifts that we encounter inland, and the thin layer of snow over the ice prevents us from slipping.

The clear sky and the sun shining overhead made this an ideal day to do field work. We quickly got working on our first family group -a 14-year-old female and her two very shy cubs. In just a short time after loading back into our helicopter, thinking we may be flying for some time before running into another group, we quickly spotted yet another large female and her one cub trailing behind as they hurried down the ice! We landed once again and were off to work.

I quickly realized that, although being out in the field can be hard work involving a constant battle with the elements, I never seem to grow tired of working with these amazing animals. Each polar bear is different from the next and no two cubs are alike!

After just two short weeks here doing polar bear research my time at the Churchill Northern Studies Center is winding down. The staff, volunteers, instructors, and students on their learning vacations make this a wonderful experience that I can only hope to continue to be a part of for many years to come. Even on those incredibly cold - 40   Celsius days where winds prevented us from flying, there is never a shortage of things to do or people to see here in Churchill ... as long as you remember to always dress warmly!

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